Cody McDonough from Ravensdale takes his lifelong passion to the biggest amateur motocross stage in the country at Loretta Lynn’s
By KRIS HILL
Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor
July 26, 2012 · Updated 11:44 AM
Cody McDonough learned his colors as a toddler by memorizing which brand of motorcycle was associated with which hue.
“It was Yamaha Blue, Kawasaki Green,” said Cody’s mother, Tina. “When he was almost 2, it sounds funny, we got him pedal bike and he would ride around the house. One day one of the pedals fell off and he would just ride around leaning one way.”
Not long after the other pedal fell off, she said, and before his third birthday Cody was riding a bike. That year the Easter Bunny, Tina McDonough said, brought her son a Yamaha PW50 with training wheels.
Cody, 15, grew up in Ravensdale with his family. Close enough to Pacific Raceways to have a chance to get his start in motocross early.
And that early start has led Cody to his biggest opportunity yet in the sport: a spot in the Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship July 31-Aug. 4 at Loretta Lynn Ranch outside of Nashville, Tenn.
Long before that, though, his parents fudged his age at Pacific Raceways — then known as Seattle International Raceways — so Cody could race even though he hadn’t yet turned 4 which was the minimum age to compete.
It just made sense. Cody had always been into motorcycles.
“As he got older, we tried soccer and he was in no man’s land,” Tina McDonough said. “We tried him in tee ball. He had a good attitude but it wasn’t his sport. He tried wrestling for a year and he did good in that, but, motocross was his thing.”
It has come to a point now that Cody trains with Shannon Niday in Singer, Texas and started taking classes online to earn his high school diploma.
At 15, Cody balances five to six days of training a week with his school work, though he does get some time off during summer.
Some days he gets up early and rides at the track for three to five hours, he said, then goes and works out. During school he has a bit more flexibility in his training schedule, but, he will graduate when his classmates at Tahoma High graduate in two years.
“Online, it’s a lot harder to get everything done,” Cody said. “It’s all you doing it. You’ve got to be responsible and get everything done on your own.”
Training at the track as well as off are important, he said.
“Most people, when they think of motocross, they think of you just sitting on the bike and twisting the throttle,” Cody said. “It’s a lot more complicated than that. It’s one of the more physically demanding and dangerous sports out there. There’s a risk of getting injured every time you’re out there riding. Your body has to be in tip top shape. If you wreck and you’re not in shape, you’re definitely going to get hurt.”
And sometimes getting hurt happens even when a rider is in the best of shape.
In April 2011 Cody suffered a serious back injury when his rear end hit the seat hard after he overshot a jump. It caused some of the discs in his spine to compress and injured one so severely it was bulging.
He was taken from Mesquite, Nev., to a hospital in Las Vegas where he spent time recuperating. For a while he had trouble walking and sitting.
With a lot of physical therapy he finally recovered.
“Right now, I feel better than I ever have,” he said. “I’ve just been working hard to do well at Loretta’s since January. Ever since I qualified, it’s just been about stepping it up a notch to hopefully go there and win.”
The Ravensdale teen knows something about winning because he’s done his fair share of it, especially this year.
“Earlier this year, end of February, was the first national of the year at Freestone in Texas,” he said. “I won my first title there, that was probably the biggest thing of my career so far until qualifying for Loretta’s so far.”
Tina McDonough added, “He’s been racing all over, taking firsts and doing awesome.”
But it was at the Loretta Lynn Regionals in Texas in June where Cody earned first and two third place finishes in the three classes he competes in, his mother said, when he needed to finish in the top eight to go to the big event.
When he realized he had qualified, Cody was in shock.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It was like a dream come true.”
In a few years, when he turns 18, Cody will be able to race professionally.
Competing at Loretta’s, as it is affectionally referred to, can pave the way to that career.
“I’m using Loretta’s to get my name out there and pick up some manufacturer support for next year,” Cody said. “Pretty much just get more support, get more help out with parts, bikes, get support with engines, suspension … I want to do well enough to where they don’t just give us a discount, they give us free stuff, where they are paying us to ride for them or use their gear.”
The better he does, the more he wins, the easier it will be for Cody to make the transition into the professional class.
In the meantime, he plans to win enough to cultivate relationships with the kinds of companies that could provide support for his dream.
Tina McDonough said she and her husband, Cory, support their son completely. They’ve done whatever it takes to help him achieve his goal.
“It’s a huge sacrifice on our family’s part,” she said. “For me, as a mom, for us doing things together as a family. The money, obviously, so we’re hoping and praying that he’ll go down to Loretta’s and kick some booty and someone will see him.”
And though it’s heart wrenching for her as a mother to let her 15-year-old son go thousands of miles away to train, Tina McDonough is there for him.
“It’s become one of those things where I want him to follow his dreams, to follow his passion,” she said. “It’s hard. I struggle with it all the time.”
But, thank goodness for technology. Between Twitter, Facebook, texting and other means of electronic communication Cody and his family close the gap as best they can.
It’s the one thing the teenager has to do.
“The rule is that he has to contact me every day,” she said. “Whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or a text or a phone call. He knows the bikes will be shipped home if he is not in contact with momma bear.”
Now that Cody McDonough is on his way to a professional motocross career, he may well start learning some new colors — those of the sponsors who may help him make his dream come true.
For more information log on to Cody McDonough’s website, www.codymcd.com, or visit lorettalynnranch.net for more about the event.
Contact Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor Kris Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 432-1209, ext. 5054.